Thursday, August 30, 2012

Single Girl Church Problems

"Hi! Yes, I am, I don't need you to guard my heart. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that Proverbs 4:23 says, "guard YOUR heart....."

Ladies, have you found yourself having that conversation (even if it's only in your head)? Somewhere along the way, Church people started to pity the single. They are the lonely, sad group that only has one thing on their mind.....relationships!

If  you find yourself looking over your shoulder thinking, "Who's she talking about? I'm good with being single," you are not alone!

Okay, so this post is supposed be sarcastic (don't start the hate mail yet). However, it can honestly be a little frustrating to be a single girl in church. This is primarily directed towards "the next generation of leaders" in the Church (twentysomethings).

So if a bunch of twentysomethings get together for a bible study or some other function, people start making comments to the effect of, "Alright people, this isn't a single's mixer or anything." REALLY? You had to make that clear? Heaven forbid that Christian people actually meet in church. In fact, if you really want to "care for someone like a brother or sister" (more on that line in a minute) shouldn't you hope that they do in fact find a solid guy/girl in church? I mean it's not like we have a 50% divorce rate in this country or anything....

Are we ostracising single people in the Church? As twentysomethings, do we have a tendency to say dumb things without thinking? I know that can't possibly be true....... let's look at some examples:

1. I'm trying to guard your heart........... Again, somewhere along the way we've forgotten that the same Holy Spirit that resides in the speaker also resides in the person it's being spoken too. Do you really want to help your brother/sister in Christ? Respect their convictions and check your own heart.

2. You're my sister/brother in Christ....... One day, some young twentysomething theologian wannabe really took this phrase too far. This phrase is supposed to illicit respect between two people. This is not saying that you have to begin or end a conversation with phrases like "sis" or "bro." Yeah... I'm not a Catholic nun.....It should be noted that this is most often used to "clarify" one's "feelings" towards another....translated, "I know we had this great conversation, but don't get any ideas."

3. I'm not being a good brother/sister in Christ to you...... Well, thank you for informing me of something completely random about yourself. Why is this so frustrating? This phrase is primarily used as an excuse to stop talking to someone. Unfortunately, I have seen this used when a guy and a girl get close and then one of them decides they really weren't serious about the whole thing in the first place, so they bring out the brother/sister line. I know twentysomethings are supposed to be "free-spirits" and all, but let's all try to come up with a different line or something that resembles the truth.

Well we've certainly come up with some really great phrases to make sure all the single Christians know exactly what's what.

I had to stop myself from going into all the physical things we do to try to make sure that Christian singles don't get the wrong idea about anything. This includes personal policies against being alone with people of the opposite sex (even if you were in the middle of downtown New York or standing in the middle of the street).

Okay.... so that was interesting. Too harsh? There's a really cheesy thing I heard once that goes, "I dream of a world where a chicken can cross the road without it's intentions being questioned." Chances are, if you're single in the Church, you just "amened" that.

The truth is, my fear is that by continuing these dumb practices, we are alienating an entire group of the Church.

Let's be clear. Singles are people too. God created them with a purpose too. It's true that 98% of people will be married one day, but a mature Christian will not want to waste their years of singleness (and 2% of people will never be married). As future leaders in the Church, we have to stop treating singles with pity and worse, caution. Singleness is not a disease. It is not contagious. Let's get over our egos and our pride that says that every person we meet is "interested" in being with us.

Yes, I understand that somewhere some guy in the church ran off with his secretary and the church fell to pieces and that's why we all need to be cautious with each other. There's actually a simple solution to that....DON'T BE THAT GUY! (see studies on guarding your own heart, purity, and self-control)

Let's start examining our own lives and start treating men and women in the Church with respect without regards to their desire to wear skirts. There's no need for all the extra fluff, simple respect will do just fine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Fear of Ineffectiveness

Being ineffective is probably one of my biggest fears. That's probably why I was drawn to a field of study (accounting) that people told me would always be needed.

I never want to feel like I'm being ineffective with my job, with people, in my relationship with Christ.

As much I as I always try to work hard, feeling ineffective has a way of creeping in every now and then.

When that familiar feeling started to come back again, I tried to really reflect on what made me feel that way. What was I doing or not doing that contributed to that? I asked God for some direction in resolving that feeling.

Bring in 2 Peter 1:5-8:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, hello there God! That's quite the answer!

As I began studying this passage and what each of the characteristics meant, God really convicted me that when I begin to feel ineffective, I need to examine myself. He has already equipped me to do everything he created me to do. What am I neglecting?

The ESV version uses the word virtue in the place of goodness and it simply means the quality of life that makes someone stand out as excellent. Am I living a life of virtue? Is there some sin in my life that is keeping from living a life worthy of being called a follower of Christ?

The word knowledge here means understanding, correct insight, truth properly comprehended and applied. This kind of knowledge comes from a continual study of God's word and pursuit of him. Am I being diligent in spending time with God? Do I have a desire to know him more by spending time with him?

Self-control seems pretty obvious. It literally means "holding oneself in." It relates to control of the flesh, the passions and bodily desires. Am I practicing self-control? Is there an area of my life where self-control is lacking?

Godliness simply means to live reverently, loyally and obediently towards God. Am I putting into practice what I'm studying? Is there a part of my life where I'm being disobedient to God? Am I listening to and responding to his commands?

The ESV uses brotherly affection in the place of mutual affection. Both mean a type of kindness and mutual respect for brothers and sisters in Christ. Am I really loving people? Am I taking time to pour into other people?

Love is always a big one. Mentioned a lot in 1 Corinthians, love here is a self-giving love that is more concerned with giving than receiving. Am I loving people without any expectation of reciprocation or action in return?

I love how Peter sums all of this up by saying, "If you possess these in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

This tells me that I need to be continually reflecting on these things to prevent myself from becoming ineffective and unproductive.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cultivate Faithfulness

C.S. Lewis once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

Psalm 37 says:
Fret not yourself because of evildoers 
   be not envious of wrongdoers!

For they will soon fade like the grass 
 and wither like the green herb. 

Trust in the Lord, and do good;    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,  and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Christine Caine tweeted, "The goal is to run YOUR race and finish YOUR course. Stay in YOUR lane; stop looking over YOUR shoulder. Fix YOUR eyes on Jesus!

I have been reflecting on all three of things for a couple of months.
In my experience, nothing will derail you quicker from the course God has set out for you than looking around at other people and comparing your path to theirs.

We can so easily forget the purpose God set before us when we start looking at someone else and their purpose and thinking, “I wish I could do that.”

C.S. Lewis is definitely high up on my list of wise people and he said it so simply. Comparison is the thief of joy. Whether you admit it or not, I bet you’ve experienced this. You’re excited about the possibilities of a new opportunity or the vision God’s given you UNTIL you look over and see your friend doing something completely different and think, “She’s/He’s so much better at that than me….”

God called you for a specific purpose! A SPECIFIC PURPOSE! By the very nature of that statement you can’t compare it to someone else’s purpose. So why do we?

I have Psalm 37 posted in my office, because I need to read it almost every day. The first two verses speak to comparison, but I continually have to remind myself of verse 3, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness”

The word "befriend" here also means "cultivate." What the Psalmist is telling us is to dwell in the land (wherever you are with God) and cultivate faithfulness in whatever he’s called you to do.

Someone pointed out to me once that as Christians, so many time we want the result without the process. For me, this means that we want to reach the pinnacle without laboring in the climb.

What has called you to do right now? Not what do you want to one day be doing. What do you need to cultivate faithfulness in today?

Christine Caine summed it up best for me with her tweet. When I’m frustrated with something in my life, I can usually trace it back to taking my eyes of MY purpose.

We need to stop looking around comparing our journey with Christ with everyone else’s and get to OUR OWN purpose. God created every part of YOU! Your talents, your knowledge, your personality were all created to fulfill your unique purpose! THAT’S AMAZING!!

How much more effective would we all be at spreading the Gospel if we stopped the comparison and started cultivating faithfulness in what God has called us to do?